In The Know: Poll shows Oklahoma voters oppose tax cut proposals

by | May 10th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (1)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that a new poll shows that large majorities of Oklahoma voters oppose state income tax cuts if it means less funding for schools, roads and public safety. The poll also shows that voters believe cutting the income tax will lead to higher sales and property taxes to make up for lost revenues, and two-thirds oppose this tradeoff. See a memo from with the full results from Global Strategy Group here.

More parents and educators are expressing concerns that further tax cuts would have devastating effects on Oklahoma schools. Between 50 and 75 parents walked the Capitol yesterday to push for more public school funding. UCO economist and business dean Mickey Hepner debated Arthur Laffer over Laffer’s plan to cut the state income tax. This Land Press compiled tweets from those attending the event.

State Rep. Jerry McPeak accused state education officials of circumventing a law creating an appeals process for students denied a diploma. The monitors overseeing the child-welfare improvement plan for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services will not give their approval to the latest version. Officials from Texas and Tennessee have been identified as top candidates for the new Director of the Oklahoma DHS. The Tulsa World writes that legislation could undo all the progress Oklahoma has made in protecting animals raised in puppy mills.

The oil and natural gas industry accounted for $1 in every $3 of gross state product, according to a report commissioned by the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board. A Reuters special report examines the complicated financial-engineering that has been more lucrative for Chesapeake Energy than selling gas. Oklahoma higher education officials are optimistic about a plan to require energy cost-cutting at state agencies.

The Number of the Day is the percentage Oklahomans who believe an educated and well-trained workforce is more important for boosting the economy than low personal income tax rates. In today’s Policy Note, the Pew Economic Mobility Project finds that Oklahoma is one of the worst states in the nation for individuals seeking to climb the economic ladder.

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New poll shows Oklahomans oppose income tax cut proposals

by | May 9th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (0)

A poll released today by the Oklahoma Advocacy Project reveals strong opposition among Oklahomans to proposals for reducing and eliminating the state income tax. The poll finds that large majorities oppose a tax cut if it means less funding for schools, roads, and public safety. The poll also shows voter concern that cutting the income tax will lead to higher sales and property taxes to make up for lost revenues.

The poll reveals that while voters may support phasing out the income tax in theory, support evaporates when voters are presented with concrete choices and consequences involved in proposals to reduce or eliminate the tax cuts. In particular:

In The Know: Romney to visit GOP headquarters in Oklahoma City

by | May 9th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (1)

In The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney will join the governor today for an event at the Oklahoma Republican Party Headquarters.  Gov. Fallin and legislative leaders continued to negotiate a budget agreement, which they say will include a cut to the state’s personal income tax rate.  A member of the House Education Committee said he is embarrassed over the dire funding situation for public schools in Oklahoma.  Parents, teachers, and students will rally at the Capitol today to protest cuts to education funding.

Oklahoma City topped a list of places considered small business friendly in a national survey.  The Tulsa World reported on a bill that could result in insurance policies that don’t cover minimum mandated services, such as mammograms and immunizations.  OK Policy previously discussed the implications of SB 1059, which repeals access to a wide range of health services.

A Chesapeake Energy shareholder filed a lawsuit against the company over its corporate jet policy, alleging improper use of the jet for personal trips over several years.  A new video produced by OK Policy shares personal stories of the impact of ending tax credits for working families with children.  The governor and tribal leaders will meet on a task force to try and resolve a water rights dispute.

A Democratic lawmaker expressed concern about what she considers an anti-woman agenda among GOP legislators in the state.  Dozens rallied for gun rights at the Oklahoma Capitol.  In today’s Policy Note, the Pew Center on the States calculated the full cost of incarceration for taxpayers in each state – including employee benefits, capital costs, and education and medical services for inmates.  The Number of the Day is the percentage of employees in Oklahoma who say their workplace is hiring.

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Why raise taxes on working families?

by | May 8th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (0)

Lost amid much of the tax cut discussion has been the fact that proposals coming out of the legislature would actually increase taxes on hundreds of thousands of low- and moderate-income families. That’s because they could lose a host of broad and effective tax credits designed to encourage work, support basic nutrition, and support families with children. A new video produced by OK Policy shares personal stories of what the impact could be.

We encourage you to watch the video and share it widely. Then head over to OK Policy’s take action page where you can learn more about what you can do to protect these important credits.

In The Know: Oklahoma Democrats expected to block proposed bond issues

by | May 8th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (1)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that Senate Democrats said they would not support any proposed bond issues this session as long as there is a push to cut the state income tax. House Appropriations Chair Earl Sears told Oklahoma Watchdog that the legislature is considering reducing the top rate to “the high four percent” range and reducing the number of brackets. Tulsa school board members said they are losing hope for an “eleventh-hour” budget reprieve to prevent the loss of 75 teaching positions.

Chesapeake Energy’s largest shareholder urged the board to be open to buyout offers. In the OK Policy Blog, Mike Connelly discusses the questions we should be asking about criminal justice reform. OK Policy previously explained what the latest reform bill would do. Because of a drop in the state’s unemployment rate, Oklahomans will no longer be able to receive unemployment compensation beyond 60 weeks.

The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes asked a federal judge to order the release of $6.4 million that they claim was illegally frozen at the request of a Clinton bank. Medical groups are at odds over a plan to use funds to increase the size of medical schools in Tulsa, when they were originally intended to combat a shortage of doctors in rural Oklahoma.

The Number of the Day is Oklahoma’s national rank for per capita state spending on mental health. In today’s Policy Note, The Baseline Scenario explains why Social Security is still hugely important for Americans’ retirement.

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Guest Blog (Mike Connelly): The questions we should be asking about criminal justice reform

by | May 7th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Criminal Justice | Comments (0)

Mike Connelly was the first research director the now-defunct Oklahoma Sentencing Commission in the 1990s.  He went on to direct sentencing commissions in Maryland and Wisconsin before returning to Oklahoma to manage the state DOC’s Evaluation & Analysis unit until his recent retirement.  He also consulted with the Pew Center on the States’ Justice Reinvestment effort in Missouri last year.

When there is an obvious problem, any sincere effort to address it tends to be greeted uncritically.  Until this post at OK Policy Blog, I hadn’t seen a single effort by state media to critically analyze the current criminal justice reform proposal being considered by the state legislature.  But there remain questions that we should ask as it goes through the legislative process and later into implementation.

A policy isn’t really a policy until it’s implemented, no matter what the legislation says. In the case of this legislation, the DAs and judges responsible for the sentencing were not among those who invited the reform consultants into the state, and they have never shown interest in real reform. To reduce incarceration, DAs and judges would have to choose probation over prison, treatment over incarceration, and shorter sentences. Have they ever indicated that they would do this if given more information about the defendant? Is there anything in the proposals that would encourage them to make changes in their practices?

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In The Know: Speaker expects budget and tax cut deal within 2 weeks

by | May 7th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that House Speaker Kris Steele said a budget agreement and tax cut plan should be worked out within two weeks. The Oklahoma Capital Investment Board is being phased out but the state still has to deal with the agency’s $20 million of debt. Five companies or individuals are responsible for nearly half of the $264 million in state income tax credits claimed for tax year 2008.

Deteriorating, underfunded weigh stations are preventing Oklahoma from ensuring that overloaded trucks do not tear up state roads. Local officials says Oklahoma needs to do more to fund recovery from natural disasters. The Tulsa World examines the need for more education and skill-training programs for the working poor.

NewsOK pointed out that tax cuts are not as important to business as supporters believe. OK Policy previously compiled quotes from business leaders and many other tax cut skeptics. The Tulsa World looks at states that are increasing taxes to protect core services in tough times.

A U.N. investigator visited Tulsa to hear concerns from Native Americans. NewsOn6 reported on a bill that could eliminate all minimum coverage requirements for health insurance plans. OK Policy previously explained what this bill would do. The Tulsa World examines the role of group homes in Oklahoma’s child welfare system.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of college students in Oklahoma who graduate with outstanding student loan debt. In today’s Policy Note, economist Nancy Folbre discusses why we need economic incentives that discourage not just sloth and fear, but also cruelty and greed.

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The Weekly Wonk: May 4, 2012

by | May 4th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk is dedicated to this week’s events, publications, and blog posts.

This week OK Policy discussed how much like last year, ambitious talk of reining in tax expenditures has amounted to very little.  We posted an excerpt from State Treasurer Ken Miller’s Economic Report on the precarious situation with natural gas prices.  We explained why state programs designed to help the poor should reward those who save.

On Wednesday May 9th, the State Chamber of Oklahoma is hosting a tax policy forum, co-sponsored by Oklahoma Policy Institute and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, featuring Arthur Laffer and UCO Business Dean Mickey Hepner.  Click here to watch video highlights of an earlier forum on proposals to eliminate the income tax.  We evaluated a recent public opinion poll and found that after accounting for margin of error, it did not find conclusive majority public support for cutting the state income tax rate.

continue reading The Weekly Wonk: May 4, 2012

In The Know: Legislature nears budget agreement, uncertain about tax cuts

by | May 4th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Depressed natural gas prices have dampened tax cut fervor among state officials trying to negotiate a budget agreement; Americans for Prosperity is robocalling Oklahomans and urging them to tell lawmakers to eliminate the income tax.  OK Policy previously discussed the central role of out-of-state lobbying groups on the tax debate.  The Legislature voted to reauthorize the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA) for two more years.

School districts have reported significant delays in reimbursement of federal funds from the Oklahoma State Department of Education.  Gov. Fallin and lawmakers disagreed over rules to implement the new A-through-F grading system for the state’s public schools.  Supporters of income tax cuts have been touting a recent poll, but after accounting for margin of error, the poll does not show a conclusive majority of voters in favor of cutting the top tax rate.

The U.S. added fewer jobs than forecast for April and the unemployment rate declined as more workers left the labor force.  The House approved a bill to limit purchases of cold and allergy medication containing a key methamphetamine ingredient.  David Blatt wrote in The Journal Record about the state’s common goals and how best to use our resources to achieve them.

The EPA is slated to remove eleven Oklahoma streams from the impaired waters list.  The first domestic violence shelter in the state for adult victims of sex trafficking in Oklahoma earned certification and plans to expand.  Lawmakers look to phase-out and eventually shut down a quasi-state agency tasked with investing millions of taxpayer dollars in start-up ventures.

In today’s Policy Note, the Russell Sage Foundation released a report documenting a decade of trends in American homeownership.  The Number of the Day is Oklahoma’s rank nationally for the percentage of its residents who report engaging in no leisure-time physical activity.

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Poll dancing: Advocates exaggerate public support for tax cuts

by | May 3rd, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (0)

Supporters of income tax cuts have been touting a recent poll that purports to show strong support for tax cuts in Oklahoma.  A telephone survey of 500 registered voters were asked four questions about tax cuts, tax credits, and the size of government.  The discerning consumer of public opinion research should be skeptical about this poll’s conclusions for two reasons.  First, the survey is delicately phrased to elicit attitudes about tax cuts ‘in a vacuum’ and leaves too many influential factors out of the questions entirely.  Second, the pollster’s report relies heavily on results within sub-samples (e.g. party, income) – with margins of error that reach double-digits for some groups.

The Sooner Survey poll, conducted by Republican lobbyist and consultant Pat McFerron, asks voters if they favor ‘eliminating some tax credits‘ to reduce the top tax rate, but it doesn’t tell them which tax credits.  It’s likely that when asked directly about popular credits slated for elimination – including the child tax credit, child care tax credit and sales tax relief credit – many respondents would answer this same question very differently.  The same applies when the poll asks respondents to agree or disagree with the statement: ‘I would favor cutting government programs and services so the savings can be passed along to taxpayers in the form of a tax cut.’  The key to an accurate answer is to present an accurate choice.  How would the answers change if the poll had posed instead, ‘I would favor larger class sizes so the savings can be passed along to taxpayers in the form of a tax cut, ‘ or ‘I would favor fewer police officers..,’ etc?

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